Bulls, Stormers turn attention to Champions Cup
Two English teams await South Africa's strongest sides in this weekend's action.
The Bulls are back in action in the Champions Cup this weekend. Picture: Lee Warren/Gallo Images
Although it’s not do or die just yet for the Bulls and Stormers in the Champions Cup, the coming round of fixtures will determine if they progress to the knockout stages of the competition.
Both teams have declared their desire to do well in the competition and establish themselves as sides who are regulars in the knockout stages.
With the margin for error very thin in the Champions Cup, the stakes will be high for the Bulls and Stormers in round three.
The two sides are in tough groups and need to negotiate a way to make it into the top four of their respective pools or face dropping to the second-tier Challenge Cup or out of Europe.
Bulls to tackle Bears
The Bulls are in Pool 1 alongside English sides Saracens and Bristol Bears, French outfits Lyon and Bordeaux and United Rugby Championship rivals Connacht.
They need to make sure they do not slip up. Jake White’s charges began the season with a win over Saracens at home and then narrowly lost to Lyon in round two and they return to action on Saturday when they take on the Bears away at Aston Gate.
The Bulls will keep their cards close to their chest in terms of who will be part of the playing squad as at the back of their minds will be next weekend’s encounter against Bordeaux at Loftus Versfeld — their final game of the pool. The Pretoria side will likely send their fringe players to take on the Bears. Their strength in depth will be tested under the tough weather conditions at Aston Gate.
Stormers looking for Sale scalp
Meanwhile, the Stormers play their final home game in the pool stage as well. Their close win over the defending champions, La Rochelle, in December was a launch pad for Saturday’s clash with Sale Sharks.
As they are in fourth place in Pool 4, the group of death, John Dobson’s side will be confident getting a win over Sale at the Cape Town Stadium and make sure they go into the final round with less pressure. A win on Saturday could be enough to see them progress.